The goal was for me to step back from writing this week. That didn’t last very long.
I arrived yesterday in London for the first time in my life, kicking off eight days of exploring and wandering and carousing with old friends.
Within a few hours of touching down, I made my way to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard where the State Ceremonial Musicians of the Bands of the Household Division inexplicably played Hercules’ “Go the Distance” and a Billy Joel medley.
I traipsed through the National Gallery, and landed afterwards at a dumpling house in Chinatown where I — stupidly, but predictably — checked my phone.
The headlines about the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting leapt off the screen. As it was still the middle of the night back in the U.S., there weren’t many details available, so I went on about my day.
Last night, my friends and I went to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an iconic and historic gay bar, to take in a drag show with Myra DuBois, a self-described “Famous Celebrity, Very Huge Star” and former semifinalist on Britain’s Got Talent.
Myra turned out to be a brilliant, quick-witted, master-of-audience-interaction drag queen. Even almost incapacitated by jet-lag, I was thoroughly entertained. So was the intensely packed house.
Towards the end of her set, a man to my right yelled out, “Recognize Colorado Springs.”
He was American, a characteristic which — I had learned from some of Myra’s earlier audience patter — was not…enviable to this crowd. True to form, his interruption was far more of a demand than a request
Myra paused for only a half-second.
She quickly responded to the American that she was not going to observe a moment of silence, that such a memorial would not be in keeping with what happened in Colorado Springs.
Instead, given that Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a buoyant and vibrant gay bar, Myra led the audience in a minute of noise: cheering for the LGBTQ+ community, shouting for the importance of safe spaces, and yelling for being gathered together safely.
It was a remarkable moment, one I wish I had recorded, but one about which I could not be more appreciative that I was present.
I had started this piece wanting to write about the embarrassment of being an American in this space, especially as both Myra and Lola Lasagne, the second act, questioned how unfathomably permissive gun laws — and the culture that ardently supports them — could permit such an atrocity.
I wanted to make some larger point, some call to action that would bring a minuscule amount of clarity to the senselessness of it all.
But I just don’t have those words in me right this second.
Instead, I’m just going to sit with that moment where I was an Ohioan in a London gay bar, surrounded by LGBTQ+ siblings I didn’t know, cheering for my community.
As Myra repeatedly said last night, “Lots of love.” 🔥